A Bitty Blog About (Writer’s) Block

Writer’s block is a bitch. And while we’re on that, every sort of block is a bitch. Writer’s block, painter’s block, musician’s block: all bitches. The problem isn’t so much that you can’t write or create anything; this is a normal part of the creative process because you simply can’t force inspiration. Inspiration must happen and if it doesn’t happen then there is nothing to create. You just have to sit back and wait. The only other sort of option is to get totally smashed and then let yourself create all sorts of wonderful things that are not so wonderful when you sober up. This is obviously a very hit or miss strategy, and probably isn’t the healthiest.

The problem isn’t just writer’s block in and of itself. The problem is that writer’s block usually happens when you have all sorts of good idea and things to write about. You may be feeling particularly creative, or have a lot on your mind, or be very motivated to just make something great. Then you realize you don’t quite know how to start, or how to frame your words, your painting, or whatever you are creating. The story might not have all of the kinks worked out, or the intro just doesn’t seem right in some vague way. This is the real writer’s block: the constipation of the mind. There are all sorts of things to write about, and you have tons of great ideas. But when you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, or paint to canvas, it just doesn’t feel right. It’s not how you thought it would be; the words don’t flow how you imagined and the colors look like a third grader wrecked your canvas. So you stop and hesitate to start again. Waiting usually can clear things up in time, but waiting can also dilute the artistic inspiration that was so pure in the first place, making it hard to capture a certain feeling or idea. Writer’s block is a bitch.

This is the spot I find myself in currently. The blog is a cool idea, although it sort of backfired in making me be super duper critical about anything that I write. I also possibly screwed myself up with making my blog be about “a bunch of random stuff.” My first two posts were on Pokémon and politics and were sort of analytical. A ranting piece such as this seems about as random as a random blog could be–maybe so random it is to be expected–but it doesn’t feel right following the first two even though it should fit nicely with the general theme of the blog. So be it. I think I’m feeling out the terrain, trying to find the identify of this place.. I really didn’t think stuff like this wouldn’t appear occasionally, and maybe it’ll be more interesting than the other posts. Everything is a constant work in progress, a constant feedback loop of what works and what doesn’t work, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hesitant all the time and, ya know, just write. And post stuff.

It sure would be nice to write something creative and productive though.

Stupid Election

I wasn’t too excited for the election in the first place. A few years ago, when most of the candidates announced they were running for president, there was really no one interesting that stood out. The Democrats had Hillary Clinton (Eh. Okay.) and a little-known Bernie Sanders (Who?) while the Republicans had a whole shitshow of candidates that had me terrified and laughing at the same time. Maybe the election would somehow clean itself up and start to mirror other years with each party picking someone sort-of-cool but not really magnificent. Where we could just relax and say “whatever.” Boy was I wrong. Since the primaries have finally worked themselves out and we are left with @realDonaldTrump and “I’m with Her,” I find myself not really giving a damn but also giving a damn because I sort of have to because I like this country. This election season is apathy. Apathy where you get to vote.

Let’s get the Republican side out of the way first: Donald Trump is nuts. He makes the Planters Peanut Guy look like a normal Joe. I get people are angry at “the system,” but nuking it with a Trump presidency is a terrible idea. It’s like if your house has some issues, let’s say it has a leaky roof or something, and your fix is to torch the thing down to the ground and rebuild the entire house. Yes, that is one way of fixing the roof, but it probably isn’t the best way to go about it. Fixing American politics could be accomplished by electing Trump, having a nuclear war, watching society collapse, and by rebuilding a few hundred years later. Maybe that system of government will work great! But all of that doesn’t seem like the best way to bring about change unless you want IRL Fallout 4. Things are dysfunctional, but not that dysfunctional. Donald Trump in all of his anti-glory will probably occupy a few dedicated blog posts later as he’s basically a goldmine of “What the fuck happened?”

There was Ted Cruz, and him picking a VP a few weeks before he dropped out. And Jeb. Remember Jeb Bush? “Please clap.” There was also something about Chris Christie being held hostage, but it’s all a bit fuzzy. And tiny hands? Right? I’ll just ignore the rest of the Republican primary because I don’t want to work that hard to remember what a terrible mess it was. You can sum it up easily enough: shitshow.

The Democrat’s side was a bit cleaner, not a blatant shitshow and a bit less enthusiastic, with the two obvious front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. There was another guy and another guy in the first debate or so, and even some guy named O’Malley. Right? But we all knew they didn’t have a chance in hell between the mighty Clinton and Bernie with his feel the Bern. Everyone expected it would be those two with Sanders probably not winning the nomination. Clinton damn near won in 2008 against O’Bama-rama, so you knew she was looking forward to 2016 to be swept into the nomination without question. It also seemed that she was given preference by the really important people in the party – the Washington people. To them, Bernie was nuts. Not Donald nuts, but still nuts.

Bernie put up a damn good fight; it was a hell of a lot closer than I would’ve expected, especially since he has a big, dirty “I” for his party designation and with that SOCIALISM word being thrown around.

Socialism
Boo!

He did a damn good job, but his nomination was not to be. Mrs. Clinton surely and steadily climbed higher towards the magical goal of whatever number of delegates was required, almost as if it was predestined. On the Democrat’s side, there are also these things called superdelegates which are a way to ensure the party elites have their say-so in the election. This sort of ended up screwing over Sanders and his supporters. Curiously, if the Republicans would’ve had superdelegates, they probably wouldn’t currently be dealing with Uncul Dolan.

.

Merica pls
pls mexican

 

Sanders and his supporters like to point out things like, “The system is rigged against Bernie!” The superdelegate issue might have hinted that, yes, Sanders and his supporters weren’t paranoid and that things were rather shady with the party elites, but I wasn’t convinced. I like hard, non-debatable evidence of collusion and lacking this evidence I concluded that Bernie lost fair and square. After all, America might want more tried-and-true politics than the big, scary SOCIALISM. Change is scary.

Whoops. That didn’t last long. Enter the DNC email leaks. Bernie didn’t lose fair and square; it was more like biased and circle. This side of the election really is a shitshow! We just didn’t know it yet!

Hill
Hillary doesn’t get any may-mays. Too serious.

Apparently the party elites did secretly try to undermine Sanders. Apparently the system was rigged all along. But by the time all of this stuff was out in the open the primaries were over. Had these leaks occurred earlier, we could have pointed fingers, yelled at each other, had Wasserman Schultz resign, made up, and carried on our nominating way towards a totally fair Clinton or Sanders victory. But of course all of this shit went down after everyone voted. The whole damn thing leaves a bad taste in your mouth; it’s all so dirty you just don’t want to give a damn anymore because giving a damn doesn’t actually do anything.

So that’s this election in a nutshell: there is nothing to be excited about anymore. We have our candidates and…meh. It’s all a shit-show and while it is sometimes entertaining, it isn’t really that good. I rate it 4/10: Would not relive. It makes me wish for the old Gore vs Bush or Obama vs McCain days. Ya know, when we had some asshats running but they weren’t the sort of asshats that you couldn’t stomach voting for. You might not agree with them but you also didn’t expect them to rewind civilization back to the middle ages. The only thing this election has going for it is trying to protect the United States from Trump. It’s a choice between a guy who is nuts, and a woman who is meh. Who knows.

Pokémon Go!

For those of you living under rocks or whatever, or don’t use electronics at all, you won’t know anything about Pokémon Go. That is unless someone has looked under your rock or inside your hut looking for a Charizard, which is actually highly likely. But if you ever browsed Facebook or have visited a local park or any other public place in the past month, you are probably well aware of Pokémon Go. It’s existence is pretty damn hard to miss by the masses of people that are out wandering around in unlikely places, staring at their phones. Personally, I’ve been amazed at the change that has taken place in the world since this little video game was released. I can’t think of a single thing that has instantly altered the world as this unassuming game has. It’s been interesting to think about. So, for this first real blog post, I’ll write about Pokémon Go!

What exactly is a “Pokémon?”

Before I start, let’s get this shit out of the way:

  1. Pokémon – The video game itself
  2. Pokémon – The series itself or merchandise or whatever
  3. pokémon – The actual “pocket monsters” themselves, Pikachu, Gyarados, etc.

Pokémon, for those aforementioned culturally-ignorant people, are a series of video games, television shows, card games, merchandise, and other various things that have been fairly popular in the past few decades. It all started with the games Pokémon Red and Blue that were released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996 (Apparently, they were released in Japan a year earlier, and were titled Red and Green, but whatever). The gameplay centers around catching pokémon, literally translated as “pocket monsters,” leveling them up, and challenging various gym leaders to progress the game. From first hand experience, the gameplay is highly addictive, even in the first iterations of the games. Kids from the 1990s will know exactly what I am referring to. It is the key points of the core Pokémon gameplay that lead me to the next part: why this silly-ass game of Pokémon Go is so damn popular.

Why is Pokémon Go so Popular?

Pokémon Go is amazingly popular. It blows my mind. As huge as this game is it will be remembered decades in the future – sort of like how Super Mario Bros and Pong were. Pokémon has always been big, but the hype has mellowed out over the past decade; it was huge in the 90s when the video games, card games, and television show were released, but waned a bit in popularity during the 2000s. But Pokémon Go took the hype back to the stratospheric heights the series enjoyed back in the 90s. Pokémon Go is as huge as it is because it benefits from a strong nostalgia factor and by being able to incorporate the beloved things (such as core gameplay) of pokémon in a new and interesting way.

The game is huge partly because it’s a Pokémon game; there are large numbers of people playing this game that played the originals back in the late 90s. By doing a bit of math, you’d expect anyone from between 25 and 35 to have possibly played the originals around the time they were released. It isn’t hard to expect that these kids might be more drawn to the game more than other demographics. It’s also notable that this age group is very tech-savvy and comfortable with owning and using phones. Pokémon Go might also be targeted towards younger kids, but I’d expect the core demographic to be 20 and 30 year-olds. First-hand experience seems to confirm this. It also isn’t targeted towards seniors because, well, duh. Why would they be? Anyways, it seems most people that play Go were some of the same people that played it back in the 90s.

Another key aspect of Go is that it borrows gameplay from the actual, original games. As I said, this gameplay is highly addictive and magically blends itself into the augmented reality platform of this newest release. In the original game, you walk around a virtual work looking for pokémon. In Go, you walk around the real world looking for pokémon. This makes you actually part of the adventure! Instead of acting through a protagonist; you are the protagonist! And instead of fighting deliberate, designed, and programmed gyms, you battle other people’s real (real in a sense) pokémon. Differing types of pokémon also spawn in locations based on their types: water pokémon around water, bug type pokémon around cities, and you get the idea. This adds a realism factor and also forces you to travel around to find new types. In short, the gameplay is close to the original game, except it happens in reality. It’s like real-world Pokémon!

Pokémon had a motto of “Gotta catch ‘em all!” As you’d expect, Pokémon Go incorporates this nicely. The pokédex, the list of all the possible pokémon you can catch, stares at you with blank spaces for pokémon that you haven’t caught yet, and beckons you to complete all of the entries.

Screenshot_2016-07-25-12-41-37
My own, pathetic pokédex.

 Each new pokémon caught gives you a very happy feeling of progress. This is how the system worked in the originals, but you were just competing with the game to catch as many as possible. You didn’t know what your friends caught in their own games unless you talked to them at lunch time or called them after school. There could be some competition, but it was still you in your own game. Pokémon Go, by taking place in our current age, allows you to have near instant contact with your friends, and a single screenshot on Facebook or over a text can make you feel that your own pokédex is lacking. Instead of just trying to complete the entries for your own pleasure, you are suddenly competing against nearly everyone you know. This adds pressure, suspense, and a goal that keeps Pokémon Go highly addictive.

The game is a perfect storm of crack-like gameplay that stays true to the Pokémon formula. Kids who played decades ago will play a similar game where they themselves act as the protagonist and battle real people at gyms. The addictive nature of trying to catch all possible pokémon, or at least more than your friends have caught, is present and is magnified by social media.

Is it just a Fad?

The key speculative question I’ve been asking myself is “Is Pokémon Go a fad? Or does it have staying power? Will my beloved bike-path always be clogged with 20 and 30 year-olds staring at their phones?” My wife likes to call me a “fence sitter” as I always take the middle view, and I’ll do the same here. The game won’t stay as large as it was in the first few weeks, and interest seems to be on the decline already, but I think for years on out you’ll still see people visiting pokéstops and walking around parks. There just won’t be as many as before. I’m personally curious to see how people play the game in December and January. If anyone is a true pokémon champion, it’d probably be whoever those people are.

Is Pokémon Go Good or Bad for the World?

This is up for everyone to decide on their own. Some people loathe the game and call those who play “children” or other terms akin to that. People who like the game give it credit for getting people outside. One of my friends on Facebook deemed that “Pokémon Go will end obesity.” While I wouldn’t go that far (American’s health habits are well entrenched), you can’t deny that people actually have went outside. Isn’t one long critique of gamer culture that they don’t get enough time outside? Problem solved. They’re outside.

It is also depressing to find people complaining about social media being flooded with Pokémon references and memes. Yes, this is the case, but people are passionate about their loves and hobbies. Others have to endure endless football posts and references, and other various sports year round. Not everyone likes sports. People share music that not everyone likes and we deal with it. This goes for about any post: politics, news, and whatever else people share. Social media has a myriad of stuff going on, and despite Pokémon Go being “immature,” others have to deal with equally frustrating things, and many stay silent about it. Sometimes it’s okay to be childish. What, are we supposed to worry about wars, terrorism, and everything wrong with the world just because it is deep and important? Does being an adult mean you have to be permanently pissed-off and serious? Worrying won’t solve anything, and posting on Facebook won’t solve anything either. But if everyone just played Pokémon Go and didn’t care about other people’s issues, I bet the world would be a better place. That’s not even sarcasm.

Murder
…Although seeing this might make you murder someone.

So I must say I’m a fan of Pokémon Go in its ability to let people be part of something bigger and share something with a large portion of their friends. The world is a shithole – we all know that – and forgetting about it in a bout of pokémon hunting at a park, enjoying the outdoors, and kindly interacting with strangers who share a common interest doesn’t seem to be a terrible thing. While I’m not as dedicated as many of my friends, I wish everyone luck on their hunting. Go catch your Charizard and drop a 1200 cp Vaporeon at a nearby gym. #TeamMystic

The Very First Post

Black Haired Guy writes about his first post.

So this is the first blog post of mine. And as such, it has to be something utterly profound and mind-blowing; it has to be something so wonderful and talented that it justifies the entire existence and effort of actually making a blog. By making a blog, you are basically admitting to the world that you think you have something of importance to share with others, or something like that. While I might actually think that, I have no idea of what I actually want to get across to people. I guess I feel that I have things to say but I’m not sure of exactly what those things are. I won’t try to blow your mind in the first moment with some shocking and amazing truths that you’ve never heard before. Because they probably don’t exist. And if they do exist, they’re probably akin to “42” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: totally meaningless and unusable. I think most “first posts” tend to be that way – very “important” and profound – and I hope there is none of that here.

Sadly, I don’t have any narrow sort of topics to talk about. One of my strengths (or weaknesses, depending on how you look at things) is that I have a wide and varied range of interests. I think I’ll shovel more of that information onto the “About” page to be a bit more wordy and detailed about it all. I can’t focus on a single topic. If you ask anyone who knows me, I am interested in astronomy, science, art, music, video games, running, running barefoot, writing, investing, blogging (apparently), and all sorts of other things that escape my mind right now. And I intend for this blog to be a reflection of those interests. The topics will be wide and I’m assuming most people won’t find 25% of the posts worth reading, but that’s the fun of it! I hope I write about such a wide berth of things that everyone can find something they’d enjoy to read, even if you have to check over and over dozens of times before you see that I’ve posted something of interest to you. Hang in there. Or request that I write something that you’d enjoy.

So, I guess that’s it. That wasn’t so hard to write, eh? I’ve been so terrified to actually start a blog that I haven’t ever begun one, until now apparently. I’d like to have everything perfect. And waiting for everything to be perfect you never begin. Getting things perfect requires you to fuck up a lot, and that’s how you get good at whatever you want to get good at. The only way to truly fail is to never start in the first place.